Skip to content


  • Case report
  • Open Access

Compression of common peroneal nerve caused by an extraneural ganglion cyst mimicking intermittent claudication

  • 1Email author,
  • 1,
  • 1 and
  • 1
Journal of Brachial Plexus and Peripheral Nerve Injury20138:5

  • Received: 27 February 2013
  • Accepted: 17 May 2013
  • Published:


Peripheral neuropathies caused by ganglion cysts are rare. They seldom cause serious complications especially in the lower extremities. The case was a 51-year-old woman referred by her physician to the vascular surgeon with diagnosis including intermittent (vascular) claudication and deep venous thrombosis. Primarily vascular surgeon performed a doppler ultrasound of the lower extremity and calculation of the ankle-brachial index. There were no abnormal pathological findings. Careful physical examination revealed soft swelling and tenderness around the fibular head and neck. Weakness was observed in foot eversion and dorsiflexion. There was pain and tingling in the distribution of the peroneal nerve. and referring the patient to orthopedic surgeon owing to concern for a potential compressive lesion at the right proximal tibiofibular region. Electromyogram studies and physical examination confirmed a diagnosis of compression neuropathy of common peroneal nerve. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a fluid-filled, lobulated mass indicating a ganglion cyst. One months after decompression, the patient had no complaint. Fast diagnosis and immediate management are essential to regain best possible recovery.


  • Peroneal nerve
  • Ganglion cyst
  • Tibiofibular joint


Leg pain, loss of ankle dorsiflexion and sensory loss,neurogenic claudication most commonly produced by degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. On the other hand, isolated peroneal nerve compression can mimic lumbar disc disease. Differentiation of symptoms of vascular claudication from symptoms of neurogenic claudication is important. Ganglion cyst is the most frequent tumours of the upper extremity. Despite their high incidence, ganglion cyst rarely result in peripheral nerve compression [1]. Compression neuropathies of the lower extremity are much less common and comprise only a minority of cases have been described [29]. The peak incidence has been seen at the fourth decade of life and it is rare in children [2, 8]. Neurologic symptoms and pain are typical manifestations. We describe a case with a ganglion cyst as a rare cause of peroneal neuropathy and mimicking intermittent claudication treated surgically.

Case presentation

A 51-year-old female patient presented to her physician with a six-month history of intermittent claudication. She developed aching, cramping, pain and weakness of her right calf. She has radiating pain and hypoesthesia, while motor weakness was less prominent. She was referred to a vascular surgeon. After examination of the case there was nothing that concerns vascular surgery. Tenderness in the area of the right fibular head with gradual development of swelling in the same area was determined. Therefore,case was referred to orthopedic surgeon. A comprehensive physical examination revealed soft tissue swelling in the region around the fibular head and neck. There was slightly weakness in foot eversion and dorsiflexion, especially of the first toe. Inversion was normal. Electromyogram studies of the common peroneal nerve demonstrated significant neuropathic abnormalities. Subsequent magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated a lobulated, multilocular,cystic-appearing mass around the proximal fibular area. It was measured approximately 3 cm × 2 cm × 2 cm (Figure 1). The lesion was located anterior to the lateral aspect of the fibular neck, with the common peroneal nerve compressed against the posterior aspect of the cyst. It extended along the nerve toward its bifurcation. Using a lateral approach, the common peroneal nerve was recognized and traced to its bifurcation (Figure 2). The mass was followed down to its stalk and removed completely. The peroneal nerve was recognized as intact. All nerve branches were preserved under loupe magnification. The surgical material was diagnosed as ganglion cyst by histopathological examination. After one month of the surgery, the patient had no complaints of pain and the claudication also recovered completely.
Figure 1
Figure 1

Characteristic magnetic resonance imaging findings of ganglion cyst with high signal intensity on the T2 sequence images.

Figure 2
Figure 2

Intraoperative photograph of the lesion as seen associated with the peroneal nerve.


Peripheral nerve lesions owing to ganglionic cysts are infrequent findings. The pathogenesis of these cysts has been the subject of controversy. However, evidence has demonstrated that they are of articular origin [10, 11]. Ganglionic cysts compressing the peroneal nerve may be extraneural or intraneural [12]. Most of the ganglionic cysts defined in the literature causing peroneal nerve compression were intraneural type. Compression of the peroneal nerve was owing to an extraneural cyst as in our case is a condition rarely encountered and history of knee trauma is a common findingd [13, 14]. There was knee trauma history in our case. The most frequent symptoms of this condition are weakness in the tibialis anterior, peroneus longus and brevis muscles, and pain radiating to the lateral malleolus [1517]. Swelling of the proximal tibio-fibular joint are less common. Our case presented with radiating pain and hypoesthesia, while motor weakness was less prominent. The other complaints were swelling and localized pain in the region around the fibular head and neck. The differential diagnosis should include root compression, a nerve compression near the tendinous arch of the peroneal longus muscle, a nerve-sheath tumor, the osteocartilaginous exostosis at the proximal lower leg [1820] and intermittent claudication as in our case. Plain radiographs have little importance in the diagnosis of ganglion cyst, but may be beneficial in eliminating a bony anomaly or fracture of the proximal part of fibula. Furthermore it may be useful in excluding degenerative disc disease of the lumbar spine. Magnetic resonance imaging is more useful in terms of the diagnosis. It may be difficult to differentiate a ganglion cyst from nerve sheath tumors and also solid masses on magnetic resonance imaging. Ultrasonography may be effective in showing the cystic nature of the mass and in differentiating it from solid tumors [21]. Compression of the fibular nerve by an extraneural ganglion is an infrequent and often misleading condition. If the patient has intermittent claudication especially with paresthesia, weakness in foot eversion and dorsiflexion, ganglion cyst should be considered in the differential diagnosis. A combination of magnetic resonance imaging and ultrasonography is helpful for correct diagnosis of the disorder, and it should be treated by microsurgical technique when possible.


When a patient presenting with intermittent claudication, compression neuropathy of the peroneal nerve secondary to a ganglion cyst should be kept in mind in aspect of the differential diagnosis. After a complete history and physical examination, electromyogram and magnetic resonance imaging should be performed in terms of the differential diagnosis of a ganglion cyst. Careful preoperative evaluation, and early surgical excision by microsurgical technique in the management of the ganglion cyst should be recommended.


Authors’ information

Corresponding Author: Raif Ozden M.D. Assistant Professor. Mustafa Kemal University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Antakya, Hatay, Turkey.

Vedat Uruc M.D. Assistant Professor. Kemal University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Antakya, Hatay, Turkey.

Aydıner Kalacı M.D. Associate Professor. Mustafa Kemal University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Antakya, Hatay, Turkey.

Yunus Dogramacı M.D. Associate Professor. Mustafa Kemal University Faculty of Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Antakya, Hatay, Turkey.


Authors’ Affiliations

Department of Orthopaedics and Traumatology, Faculty of Medicine, Mustafa Kemal University, Antakya, Hatay, Turkey


  1. Greer-Bayramoglu RJ, Nimigan AS, Gan BS: Compression neuropathy of the peroneal nerve secondary to a ganglion cyst. Can J Plast Surg 2008, 16:181–183.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Johnston JA, Lyne DE: Intraneural ganglion cyst of the peroneal nerve in a four-year-old girl: a case report. J Pediatr Orthop 2007, 27:944–946.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  3. Frank DA, Sangimino MJ: Peroneal nerve palsy secondary to ganglion cyst of the proximal tibiofibular joint in a pediatric patient. Orthopedics 2008, 31:86.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  4. Robla-Costales J, Socolovsky M, Dubrovsky A, Astorino F, Fernandez-Fernandez J, Ibanez-Plagaro J, Garcia-Cosamalon J: Intraneural cysts of the peroneal nerve in childhood: report of 2 cases and literatüre review. Neurocirugia 2011, 22:324–331.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  5. Luigetti M, Sabatelli M, Montano N, Cianfoni A, Fernandez E, Lo Monaco M: Teaching neuroimages: peroneal intraneural ganglion cyst: a rare cause of drop foot in a child. Neurology 2012, 78:46–47.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  6. Spinner RJ, Desy NM, Amrami KK: Sequential tibial and peronealintraneural ganglia arising from the superior tibiofibular joint. Skeletal Radiol 2008, 37:79–84.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  7. Stamatis ED, Manidakis NE, Patouras PP: Intraneural ganglion of the superficial peroneal nerve: a case report. J Foot Ankle Surg 2010, 49:401–404.View ArticleGoogle Scholar
  8. Waldschmidt U, Slongo T: An unusual cause of paralysis of the peroneal nerve-a case report. J Pediatr Surg 2010, 45:259–261.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  9. YazidBajuri M, Tan BC, Das S, Hassan S, Subanesh S: Compression neuropathy of the common peroneal nerve secondary to a ganglion cyst. ClinTer 2012, 162:549–552.Google Scholar
  10. Spinner RJ, Atkinson JLD, Tiel RL: Peroneal intraneural ganglia. The importance of the articular branch: a unifying theory. J Neurosurg 2003, 99:330–343.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  11. Spinner RJ, Amrami KK, Wolanskyj AP, Desy NM, Wang H, Benarroch EE, Skinner JA, Rock MG, Scheithauer BW: Dynamic phases of peroneal and tibial intraneural ganglia: a new dimension added to the unifying articular theory. J Neurosurg 2007, 107:296–307.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  12. Ghossain M, Mohasseb G, Dagher F, Ghossain A: Compression of the common peroneal nerve by a synovial cyst. Neurochirurgie 1987, 33:412–413.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Rawal A, Ratnam KR, Yin Q, Sinopidis C, Frostick SP: Compression neuropathy of common peroneal nerve caused by an extraneural ganglion: a report of two cases. Microsurgery 2004, 24:63–66.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  14. Kili S, Perkins RD: Common peroneal nerve ganglion following trauma. Injury 2004, 35:938–939.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  15. Stack RE, Bianco AJ, MacCarthy CS: Compression of the common peroneal nerve by ganglion cysts. J Bone Joint Surg [Am] 1965, 47:773–778.Google Scholar
  16. Brooks DM: Nerve compression by simple ganglia: a review of thirteen collected cases. J Bone Joint Surg [Br] 1952, 34:391–400.Google Scholar
  17. Barrie HJ, Barrington TW, Colwill JC, Simmons EH: Ganglion migrans of the proximal tibiofibular joint causing lesions in the subcutaneous tissue, muscle, bone or peroneal nerve: report of three cases and review of the literature. Clin Orthop 1980, 149:211–215.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. Huaux JP, Malghem J, Maldague B, Noel H, Rombouts JJ, Courtois C: Nagant de Deuxchaisnes C: Pathology of the upper peroneotibial joint. History of cysts. Apropos of 4 cases. Rev Rhum Mal Osteoartic 1986, 53:723–726.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Sidey JD: Weak ankles. A study of common peroneal entrapment neuropathy. Br Med J 1969, 3:623–626.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar
  20. Rinaldi E: Peroneal paralysis due to exostosis of the fibula. Report of 2 cases. Ital J OrthopTraumatol 1983, 9:259–262.Google Scholar
  21. Evans JD, Neumann L, Frostick SP: Compression neuropathy of the common peroneal nerve caused by a ganglion. Microsurgery 1994, 15:193–195.PubMedView ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Ozden et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.